Together to go further

Together to go further

When, in 2006, the heads of tourism in the regional governments of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Tuscany and Catalonia decided to join forces to strengthen the presence of tourism in the European institutions, little could they have imagined how the passing of the years (and especially the emergence of new challenges) would give meaning to this initiative.

The constitution in 2007 of NECSTouR, the European Network of Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, pursued five main objectives:

In its 15-year history, NECSTouR has become a key player on the European tourism scene thanks to the commitment of its 41 full members, 11 associate members and 18 academic members. 

They represent the most important European regions committed to the transformation of the tourism model. Fourteen of the continent's top twenty regions in terms of international tourism receipts are members of NECSTouR. From the Canary Islands to Finnish Lapland, or from Vojvodina in Serbia to Cornwall, the tourist destinations that are members of NECSTouR have developed their expertise on the basis of the so-called 5S of tomorrow's sustainable tourism:

For all this, NECSTouR relies on its Knowledge Hub as a space for cooperation and co-creation where members can access the knowledge and learning that is constantly generated by the network itself. NECSTouR's Knowledge Hub is being deployed through NECSTouR's programme "Driving behavioural change of sustainable European tourism destinations through trans-regional cooperation", which aims to support members in leading the transformation towards the Tourism Destinations of tomorrow.

Over the past years, NECSTouR has emerged as a key player in the crisis management of COVID-19. Together with other sectoral associations on the continent, it has met weekly with the European Commission with the aim of reaching a consensus on coordinated solutions for the mobility of people, coherent measures for the temporary restriction of tourism activity and, subsequently, rational criteria for de-escalation and gradual recovery of activity. This capacity to influence led it to play a leading role in the organisation of the first European Tourism Convention, held at the end of 2020 at the request of the European Commission, with the aim of debating the recovery of tourism activity based on its transformation towards sustainability with digitalisation. 

NECSTouR is currently promoting four strategic actions that mark its agenda and its institutional projection: 

1.- Tourism of Tomorrow Lab (TotLAB)

Created as part of NECSTouR's structure, as a specific Department (with a team of three people: Senior Data Scientist, expert consultant in tourism digitalisation and senior expert in tourism data), it provides data-based services to Premium members adhered to the project, with the aim of offering solutions to real problems faced by the technical teams of the DMOs, as well as to share knowledge among the members of the network. 

The differentiating factors of the TotLAB project are: 

2.- Barcelona Declaration: "Better places to live, better places to visit".

This is a manifesto that aims to guarantee the social and cultural sustainability of tourism, demonstrating how, by working together, tourism and culture (cultural heritage in particular) can improve the quality of life of the community. It is the essence of the concept of regenerative tourism, which, beyond guaranteeing the sustainability of the tourist experience, generates a positive impact on the host territory, particularly in the cultural sphere. 

The Declaration, which is open to destinations, companies, institutions and entities of all kinds, is based on five principles:

1) Intelligent and inclusive governance, involving the community, under the maxim that what is good for residents is also good for visitors. 

2) Adding value to the sense of belonging to the territory, generating authentic experiences available to all, both residents and visitors. 

3) Adopting a holistic approach to destination marketing and preservation through responsible promotion that respects vulnerable spaces and prioritises value over volume. 

4) Balancing destination, people and business through measurement and data, seeking a win-win balance, taking into account capacities. 

5) Connecting people with people, facilitating interaction between residents and visitors thanks to the application of technology, especially among young people.

3.- The NECSTouR Climate Action Plan. 

NECSTouR, as well as a good part of its members, signed in November 2021 the Glasgow Declaration for a decade of climate action in tourism for a more sustainable tourism promoted by the World Tourism Organisation as a result of the COP27 summit held in Glasgow. With this signature, NECSTouR aimed to support its network of members in the transition process towards zero carbon emissions by addressing the climate emergency, aware of the responsibility of tourism activity in the process of global warming. 

Earlier, at the beginning of 2021, NECSTouR had already joined the "Tourism declares" community, which recognised the urgent need to act to slow down the evolution of climate change if we want to ensure the long-term survival of the tourism industry and the benefits it brings to visitors, communities and businesses. 

4.- S3 Platform "Digitalisation and safety for tourism".

"Digitalisation and safety for Tourism" is one of the eleven thematic areas of the European Commission's Smart Specialisation Platform for the modernisation of industry (S3P-Industry). 

NECSTouR is driving this initiative, led by Andalusia, and promoted by Catalonia, Lazio, Tuscany and Valencia.   

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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